Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hall considering these managers,umps and execs

Here is the release from the Baseball Hall of Fame concerning the candidates eligible to be voted on by the Veterans Committees ...

Twenty former major league managers, umpires and executives will be considered for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame for induction in 2010 by two Veterans Committees, with results of a Dec. 6 vote to be announced Dec. 7 at baseball’s Winter Meetings, it was announced today.

Two ballots, each consisting of 10 candidates, will be considered by two separate voting committees. Eight managers and two umpires encompass the managers/umpires ballot and will be considered by the 16-member Veterans Committee for Managers and Umpires, comprised of Hall of Fame members, current and former executives and veteran media members. Ten executives/pioneers comprise a separate ballot to be considered by the 12-member Veterans Committee for Executives and Pioneers, which consists of Hall of Famers, current and former executives and veteran media members.

Any candidate receiving votes on 75 percent of all ballots cast will earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and will be inducted as part of the 2010 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, to be held July 25, 2010 in Cooperstown. Electors will be asked to vote for zero to four candidates on each ballot.

The 10 managers and umpires eligible for election consideration to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010: managers Charlie Grimm, Whitey Herzog, Davey Johnson, Tom Kelly, Billy Martin, Gene Mauch, Danny Murtaugh and Steve O’Neill; umpires Doug Harvey and Hank O’Day.

The 10 executives eligible for election consideration to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010: Gene Autry, Sam Breadon, John Fetzer, Bob Howsam, Ewing Kauffman, John McHale, Marvin Miller, Gabe Paul, Jacob Ruppert and Bill White.

The two Veterans Committees will meet on Sunday, Dec. 6 during baseball’s Winter Meetings in Indianapolis to discuss the candidates and cast their ballots. Results will be announced on Monday, Dec. 7.

The 10 finalists for the managers/umpires ballot:

Charlie Grimm managed the Cubs and Braves for 19 seasons, taking the Cubs to three World Series. Grimm posted a career record of 1,287-1,067 (.547), which ranks as the 24th-best winning percentage of all-time among managers with at least 1,000 games. Two of his NL pennants came as a player/manager, in which capacity he served from 1932-36. In 10 of his 12 full seasons as a manager, Grimm’s teams had winning records. As a player in 20 seasons, Grimm had 2,299 hits and a .290 batting average.

Doug Harvey spent 31 seasons as a National League umpire, working six All-Star Games, five World Series and seven Championship Series. Umpired 4,670 big league games. Pioneered the process of waiting a full second before making a call behind the plate, something he did to allow himself to replay the pitch in his mind.

Whitey Herzog was a manager with the Rangers, Angels, Royals and Cardinals from 1973-90. He was 1,279-1,143 for a .532 winning percentage, winning six division titles, three National League pennants and one World Series in 1982 with the Cardinals. Named 1985 NL Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and named 1980s Manager of the Decade by Sports Illustrated.

Davey Johnson managed the Mets, Reds, Orioles and Dodgers from 1984-90, 1993-97 and 1999-2000. Compiled a 1,148-888 (.564) record. Over 12 full seasons, his teams finished first five times and second six times. Teams qualified for postseason six times, winning one NL pennant and one World Series with 1986 Mets. Won 1997 AL Manager of the Year Award with Orioles, and his .564 winning percentage ranks 13th among managers with at least 1,000 games.

Tom Kelly served as the manager of the Minnesota Twins for 16 seasons from 1986-2001, posting a career record of 1,140-1,244 (.478). Won two World Series in five years (1987, 1991) with the Twins and has the longest tenure of any manager in Twins history. In first six full seasons, averaged almost 86 victories per year. Posted a record of 16-8 (.667) in the postseason and was named the 1991 American League Manager of the Year.

Billy Martin spent 16 seasons 1969, 1971-83, 1985, 1988) managing Twins, Tigers, Rangers, Yankees (five different stints) and A’s, compiling a 1,253-1015 record (.552). Teams finished in first place five times, winning two American League pennants and one World Series with 1977 Yankees.

Gene Mauch managed Phillies, Expos, Twins and Angels for 26 seasons (1960-82, 1985-87). Teams posted record of 1,902-2,037 (.483), good for the 12-best win total of all-time and the most wins of any non-active manager not currently in the Hall of Fame. His teams won two division titles, finished second twice and third twice.

Danny Murtaugh managed the Pittsburgh Pirates in four separate stints (1957-64, 1967, 1970-71, 1973-76) over 15 seasons. His teams won 1,115 games against 950 losses (.540) and finished first five times, including four National League East Division titles, NL two pennants and World Series wins in 1960 and 1971. Named National League Manager of the Year in 1958, 1960 and 1970.

Hank O’Day spent 34 seasons (1888-89, 1893, 1895-1911, 1913, 1915-27) as a National League umpire, called the action in 10 World Series, second-most all time, and umpired in the first World Series in 1903. O’Day gained fame after calling out Fred Merkle of the Giants in their famous game against the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 23, 1908, when Merkle failed to touch second base following an apparent walk-off hit.

Steve O’Neill managed the Indians, Tigers, Red Sox and Phillies for 14 seasons (1935-37, 1943-48, 1950-54) and never had a losing record. His teams posted a mark of 1,040-821 (.559), good for the 15th-best winning percentage in history among managers with at least 1,000 games. He led the Tigers to the American League pennant and a World Series championship in 1945.

The 10 finalists for the executives/pioneers ballot:
Gene Autry owned the Angels from their birth in 1961 until his death in 1998. Autry, a television and movie star known for his rendition of Christmas classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” led his teams to American League West titles in 1979, 1982 and 1986.

Sam Breadon owned the Cardinals from 1917 to 1947, leading St. Louis to nine pennants and six World Series titles during his tenure. Breadon helped develop the modern farm system by stocking the Cardinals’ own minor league clubs with prospects.

Bob Howsam served as the general manager of the Cardinals in the mid-1960s, helping build a team into a two-time National League pennant winner – and 1967 World Series champion. Howsam then moved on to become the general manager of the Reds, laying the foundation for the Big Red Machine that won four NL pennants and two World Series from 1970-76.

Ewing Kauffman owned the Kansas City Royals from their birth in 1969 until his death in 1993. Kauffman established the innovative Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy and led the Royals to a first- or second-place finish in the American League West every season from 1975-85, including the AL pennant in 1980 and a World Series title in 1985.

John Fetzer owned the Detroit Tigers from 1956-83, building one of the 1960s most consistent teams – one that won the World Series in 1968. Fetzer, a broadcasting pioneer, helped negotiate baseball’s initial national television contract in 1967.

John McHale served as the general manager for the Tigers, Braves and Expos from the 1950s through the 1980s. McHale joined the Expos at their inception in 1969 and built the club into one of baseball’s most consistent teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Marvin Miller was elected as the head of the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1966 and quickly turned the union into a powerhouse. Within a decade, Miller had secured free agency for the players. By the time he retired in 1982, the average player salary was approximately 10 times what it was when he took over.

Gabe Paul served as the general manager of the Cincinnati Reds, the Houston Colt 45s, the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees from the 1950s to the 1980s. Paul helped rebuild the Yankees in the 1970s, crafting a team that won three straight American League pennants and two World Series from 1976-78.

Jacob Ruppert owned the New York Yankees from 1915 until his death in 1939, turning a second-division club into a dynasty. Ruppert presided over the acquisition of Babe Ruth, the opening of the original Yankee Stadium, 10 American League pennants and seven World Series titles.

Bill White served as the president of the National League from 1989-94 following a successful career as a player and broadcaster. White presided over the addition of the Marlins and the Rockies to the NL and helped consolidate both the American and National leagues under one administrative umbrella.

Gold Glove process doesn't favor Crawford

If Bill James and his crew of stat crunchers view Carl Crawford as the best left fielder in baseball, how come the Tampa Bay Rays left fielder can't win a Gold Glove?

The answer is in the question. C.C. is a left fielder.

The Gold Glove, which is voted by the managers and coaches, picks one player at every position with the exception of the outfielders. Instead of choosing a left, center and right fielder, they lump them into one category: outfield.

That is a category dominated by center fielders.

Angels center fielder Torii Hunter won his ninth Gold Glove on Tuesday. So did Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki. Yes, Ichiro is a right fielder, but he's obviously one of the best in the game, so no argument there.

The third Gold Glove outfielder was Baltimore's Adam Jones, who is also a center fielder.

In the nine-year run of Hunter and Ichiro, the third outfielder was always a center fielder. That's really no surprise since the center fielder is usually your best fielder.

If they picked the infielders in the same manner the group would be dominated by shortstops.

Crawford will likely continue to be excluded from this group, unless the voting is changed to include one fielder at each outfield spot.

That is too bad for C.C., because his glove is a gold as they come.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rays add to minor league staff

Here is the Rays release on some additions to their minor league staff:

The Tampa Bay Rays have added three minor league coordinators for the 2010 season.

Bill Evers will join Jim Hoff as Minor League Field Coordinator, Matt Quatraro will join Steve Livesey as Hitting Coordinator, and Dewey Robinson has been hired to join Dick Bosman as Pitching Coordinator.

In addition, the Rays have named Matt Arnold the Director of Pro Scouting and Tateki “Bori” Uchibori an International Scout.

“We made these additions to our player development staff because we want to support our young players as much as possible,” said Director of Minor League Operations Mitch Lukevics. “With nine affiliates and 270 players in our minor league system, we have more teams and players than ever before. We feel these additions will ensure that every player receives the attention he deserves.”

The entire staff of minor league coordinators from 2009 will return in the same capacities in 2010.

In addition to Hoff, Livesey and Bosman, Skeeter Barnes will return as Outfield and Baserunning Coordinator, Jamie Nelson as Catching Coordinator, Mark Vinson as Medical Training Coordinator, Joel Smith as Rehabilitation and Athletic Training Coordinator and Trung Cao as Strength and Conditioning Coordinator.

Evers has spent 14 seasons in the Rays organization, including the last two (2008-09) as a professional scout. Prior to that, he spent two seasons (2006-07) as the major league bench coach and managed the Durham Bulls for eight years (1998-2005). He joined the Rays on October 16, 1995.

Quatraro has managed the last four years in the Rays organization, including the last two (2008-09) at Class-A Bowling Green and Columbus. An eighth-round selection by the Rays in the 1996 June Draft, he became the first Rays minor league player to join the organization’s coaching staff. He joined the staff in 2003 as a catching instructor.

Robinson joins the Rays after 13 seasons with the Houston Astros organization. He spent the last two years (2008-09) as the major league pitching coach. He previously served as Houston’s Director of Pitching Development and worked as a professional and amateur scout, including the evaluation of draft-eligible pitchers. Robinson joined the Astros from the Chicago White Sox organization, where he spent 10 seasons. The former right-handed pitcher made 30 career relief appearances for the White Sox, going 2-2 with a 4.05 ERA over parts of three seasons (1979-81).

Arnold has been promoted to the newly created position of Director of Pro Scouting after three seasons as a professional scout for the Rays. He joined the Rays in 2007 from the Cincinnati Reds organization, where he served as the Assistant Director of Professional Scouting.

Uchibori will assist in scouting efforts primarily in Japan, as well as Korea and Taiwan. He was the Rays Cultural Assimilation Liaison for the last two seasons while serving as the interpreter for Akinori Iwamura. Prior to joining the Rays, Bori was an interpreter in Japan’s Professional Baseball League for 10 years.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bill James: Zorilla to struggle in 2010

Bill James, who makes a pretty good living predicting the future bases on the past, is not high on Ben Zobrist in 2010. According to the Bill James Handbook 2010, '10 won't be > than '09 for Zorilla.

Here is the release ...

In the recently-released Bill James Handbook 2010, baseball guru Bill James projects the 2010 seasons for players on the Tampa Bay Rays—and predicts a slight down-turn offensively from second baseman Ben Zobrist.

“In any season, the vast majority of players play in a manner that seems a natural extension of what they had done before,” James says in his new book. “When that happens, our projection should be reasonably accurate.

With this in mind, here are five key Tampa Bay hitters for 2010, according to the new Bill James Handbook 2010:

Key Rays Hitters (by OPS)
Player At-bats R HR RBI SB Avg. OPS
Evan Longoria 595 106 37 120 9 .287 .918
Ben Zobrist 509 86 23 75 15 .281 .876
Carlos Pena 530 88 36 99 3 .240 .858
Carl Crawford 528 82 12 62 41 .295 .786
B.J. Upton 507 81 13 59 39 .266 .768

Projecting stats for pitchers is very different from projecting offensive stats for hitters.

"We used to believe that pitching performance was much, much less predictable than batter performance," James says. "This is probably still true...due to injuries and other factors. Sometimes a pitcher gets hurt, and when that happens our projections for him are knocked into a cocked hat."

Here are three key Tampa Bay pitchers for 2010, according to the new Bill James Handbook 2010:

Key Rays Pitchers (by ERA)
Player IP W L K SV ERA
James Shields 220 14 11 178 0 3.80
Matt Garza 201 12 10 175 0 3.85
David Price 180 10 10 157 0 4.30

The complete projections for the 2010 Tampa Bay Rays can be found in the Bill James Handbook 2010.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Instant replay: A-Rod makes history again

Let's play a game. When did Alex Rodriguez say the following?

“There’s probably 800 players in the big leagues. The odds of me doing something controversial is 2-1. Somehow I find myself in these situations all the time. It’s just good to get the right call.”

After Game 3 of the World Series when the umpires reversed a call with the first use of replay in World Series history and changed an A-Rod double into an A-Rod home run?

Or, when umpires confirmed a call with the first use of instant replay in baseball history and upheld an A-Rod home run?

Which one? A or B?

The answer is B, and it occurred Sept. 3, 2008 at Tropicana Field.

Here is what I wrote that night ...

The historic moment occurred Wednesday at Tropicana Field in the ninth of the Yankees 8-4 victory against the Rays.

Rodriguez turned on a fastball from Troy Percival and drove a towering fly ball down the left field line that hit the D-Ring catwalk beyond the left field foul pole. It bounced off the ring in foul territory. The question was whether the ball was in fair territory.

Third base umpire Brian Runge emphatically called the ball fair.

Rays catcher Dioner Navarro threw his mask and helmet on the ground in protest. Rays manager Joe Maddon emerged from the dugout and asked the umpires if they would want to take a look on the new 19-inch flatscreen TV installed last week in a room behind the visitor’s dugout.

“The threat of us getting into the playoffs motivated this to happen sooner, because this is a tough building,” Maddon said.

The foul poles do not extend high enough to reach the past he catwalks and the baseball tends to get lost in the white background.

Umpires Jerry Lane, Charlie Reliford and Runge went to view the replay, while home plate umpire Greg Gibson remained on the field.

They emerged 2 minutes, 15 seconds later, and Reliford twirled his right index finger, giving the signal for home run.

“A fair ball is fair when it leaves the playing field. That’s why the foul poles are up there to help us. We have it going right over the pole, all four of us had it going right over the pole on the field. And our views of the replays confirmed that. It was not inconclusive. It was conclusive that Brian’s call was correct.”

The first official use of instant replay in baseball history involved the often controversial Alex Rodriguez, and the first use of instant replay in World Series history involved A-Rod. Surprised?

Makes what Johnny Damon said that night at Tropicana Field prophetic.

“I’m sure he’s going to be a part of more of these,” Damon said. “He’s got nine more years left on his contract."

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Crawford voted best left fielder in baseball

I think those of us who watch Rays Carl Crawford play on a regular basis will agree that he is one of, if not the best fielding left fielder in baseball.

Well, this confirms it.

Here is the release on Crawford winning his third Fielding Bible Award as the top left fielder in the game ...

Tampa Bay Rays veteran Carl Crawford won the 2009 Fielding Bible Award for left field in an announcement made November 1, 2009, in The Bill James Handbook 2010. This is Crawford's third Fielding Bible Award.

Crawford, who received an almost-perfect score, was chosen by a panel of ten experts, including Peter Gammons, Bill James, Joe Posnanski, and John Dewan, author of the new Fielding Bible—Volume II.

In granting the award to Crawford, Dewan wrote: “This was no contest. No player has ever won with a perfect record (10 first-place votes from 10 panelists), but Carl came as close as possible with nine first place votes and one second. That's 99 points. (The best previously was 98 points by Adam Everett at shortstop in 2006.) If Crawford doesn't win his first Gold Glove this year, I'm going to throw up.”

Officially announced annually on November 1 (before any other fielding awards), the Fielding Bible Awards try to name the single best fielder at each of the nine positions (including pitcher) in the major leagues. This distinction came into play this year as Jack Wilson, who split his time between Pittsburgh and Seattle, won the Fielding Bible Award at shortstop.

"It is almost impossible for a player who is traded between leagues during the season to win a Gold Glove," Dewan pointed out. "I predict that Wilson will not win a Gold Glove this year, even though our 10 judges voted him the best-fielding shortstop in Major League Baseball."

This year, National League players were chosen at three positions, American League players at five, and Wilson at shortstop. 2009 marks the fourth year of the award. First-baseman Albert Pujols of the Cardinals is the only player to have won a Fielding Bible Award four years in a row. Aaron Hill won over Dustin Pedroia and Chase Utley at second base only after a tie-breaker was invoked. The complete voting results and further information are available in The Bill James Handbook 2010, published by ACTA Sports (

The 2009 Fielding Bible Award winners are:

First Base—Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (fourth-time winner)

Second Base—Aaron Hill, Toronto Blue Jays (second-time winner)

Third Base—Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals (first-time winner)

Shortstop—Jack Wilson, Pittsburgh Pirates/Seattle Mariners (first-time winner)

Left Field—Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays (third-time winner)

Center Field—Franklin Gutierrez, Seattle Mariners (second-time winner)

Right Field—Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners (second-time winner)

Catcher—Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals (third-time winner)

Pitcher—Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox (first-time winner)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Where did the month go?

It was after I flew home from Philadelphia that morning/afternoon and after I reached my house and wrote the last of my World Series stories when I finally sat down on the living room couch to relax.

The 2008 postseason had been a long affair, but I didn't realize how long until I heard my wife, who was in the kitchen, pouring something in a bowl.

"What's that?" I asked.

"Candy," she said.


"Yes. Halloween Candy?"

"Halloween Candy?"

"Halloween is tomorrow."

Tomorrow? Where did the month go?

That's what happens when the local nine reaches the playoffs and advances all the way to the World Series. The month is no longer made up of weeks, which are made up of smaller units of time we normally refer to as days.

Instead, the month is broken down like this:

Division Series, Game 1, Game 2, travel days, Game 3 ...

Championship Series, Game 1, Game 2, travel day, Game 3 ...

World Series, Game 1, Game 2, travel day, Game 3 ...

There are some off days mixed in between the end of one series and the start of another, and, in the case of Game 5 of last year's World Series, a rain delay that stretched from Monday night to Wednesday night and included a quick trip to soggy Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday.

It can be an exhausting process to follow as a fan. It's an exhausting pace to keep as a writer covering one of the teams, as you move from city to city, taking early morning flights that are so early there is no time to sleep after you've finished writing after Game 2. You file, go home and shower and head to the airport.

I can say this: speaking for both fans and for writers, we do it again in a heartbeat. I know I would.

There is nothing like the postseason in any sport. Remember the Bucs run to the Super Bowl? the Lightning's run to the Stanley Cup?

They are one long roller coaster ride where every win is a great and every loss is uh-oh.

This World Series shifts to Philadelphia for Games 3, 4, and 5, and the writers took a special train from New York to Philly. Lucky them.

And lucky fans, too.

The baseball season is still alive in those two cities and to Yankees and Phillies fans everywhere.

Here? We have the 0-7 Bucs and an offseason wondering if the Rays can retool enough to be a contender in 2010.

We also have the memories of one terrific October in 2008, where every game was either a trick or treat.